Special Project ON LEADING MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS AGENCIES (I)

Unmasking the Big Masquerades…

As 2017 rolls down to the second quarter, facts are emerging that a few Nigerian marketing communication agencies have begun to speak the complete language of the twenty-first century agency. This is necessary in order to provide the quality of total communication needed for the effective tracking of the modern shifty consumer. For many, 2016 was a year. A year like never before for the all negative reasons; at least business wise.

The Marketing Communication industry was not left out. Since it is an ancillary service in the business mix, it was not insulated from the recession. But even at that, these advertising agencies still pulled off some laudable feats during that year. And this has continued to give them an edge in 2017.

Today, these set of agencies appeared to have turned full cycle in providing the much needed total marketing communications services required to add fillip and vibrancy to the plethora of competing brands in the market place. Consequent upon this, THISDAY, the flagship of the nation’s newspaper industry, decided to put together a special pulled-out on this top agencies that are not only changing the game in the market but also have clear understanding of the direction the modern Nigerian consumer is headed. Among them are agencies that have remained leaders in the industry for decades with lots of laurel and outstanding creatives to show for it.

Of course the list also includes some young agencies that have displayed an uncommon understanding of global trend and as such participated in international awards and did the country proud at the end. Again, it has often been said that when there is any downturn in receivables by companies, even multinationals, the first casualty is the advertising and media budget. But in Nigeria, that seemed to have been taken to another level as advertising spend in the last two quarters of 2016 was abysmally low. No thanks to the economic recession that held the country at her financial jugular. Even companies that normally increase their media visibilities and other below the line activities towards the end of each year drastically cut down on this.

To this end, the fortunes of some notable agencies of the past have not only nosedives; they have lost the steam and pushed to the back seats. However, as discouraging as the advertising horizon was in recent years, these celebrated agencies still pulled the punches and one could not but notice them among the park. They are the agencies that are daily reminding the industry that advertising still remains an integral part of the marketing mix. In this special report put together by Raheem Akingbolu, Godwin Anyebe and Bunmi Awolusi, the stories of these outfits are not likely to be different in 2017. Below are a few of those to watch out for as businesses in various sectors boom in the years ahead.

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mediaReach OMD: Ahead of Others in Media Planning and Buying

Think of a media planning and buying agency with the right strategy, right human resources and tools, mediaReach OMD comes to mind.
Borne out of the need to change the media advertising landscape in Nigeria by lifting the standard of media specialist services in the country, mediaReach OMD has steadily grown to become the number one media planning and buying agency since 1999; and remain in that pole position till date.

One thing clients can be sure of at mediaReach OMD, is their ability to hold fast to a set of sound business values comprising of professionalism, responsiveness, innovative service delivery and above all, unimpeachable integrity.

Since inception, mediaReach OMD has been relentless in the drive towards achieving professional excellence in all spheres of media specialist services; providing world class media planning, buying, control and inventory management services to leading and very demanding clients in Nigeria and across West and Central Africa.

It is worthy of note that mediaReach OMD attained that position under three years of operations.
In a recent interview, the Regional Managing Director, mediaReach OMD, Mr. Tolu Ogunkoya, attributed the success of the agency to God, who he said has been very good to the team, giving them the right guidance and direction to navigate the turbulent business environment in Nigeria and across West & Central Africa. Succinctly put, Ogunkoya admitted that the success story is a combination of the right business strategy, the right human resources, right tools and right approach – all inspired by GOD. Not forgetting the unalloyed support of their esteemed clients and media partners.

At a time the country is undergoing a critical economic period, no thanks to the recession, Ogunkoya is happy to state that that the agency’s little contributions have seen most of the brands it handles survive the current economic quagmire and maintain their enviable position in the market place.

In recent time, awards; (local and international), have suddenly become the yardstick to identify agencies that can stand tall in the market.

Perhaps more than any media buying agency, mediaReach OMD stands tall as a well awarded agency. For instance, the agency has consistently won the Young Media Lions competition and in fact will be representing Nigeria for the 8th time at the Cannes, since 2008. mediaReach OMD Nigeria will be the only Agency to represent the Country at Cannes Young Lions Media Competition next month.
Aside winning numerous local awards and recognition, in March this year, mediaReach OMD ranked No. 35, the only Media Agency in Jobberman Best 100 companies to work for in Nigeria, which was measured across various parameters including Job Satisfaction, Career Growth Prospects, Work-Life Balance, Staff Welfare, Equal Opportunity Policy, Company Culture.

In February 2017, OMD Worldwide was awarded the Most Creative & Innovative Network of the Year for the 11th consecutive time by the Gunn Report for Media. This is clearly a testimony of the agency’s level of professionalism and commitment to continuous improvement.

mediaReach OMD became a member of the OMD Worldwide Network in January 2003 and this led to a change of name from mediaReach to mediaReach OMD and became the hub for OMD in West and Central Africa with offices in Lagos, Ghana and Cameroon as well as partner offices in Senegal, Sierra Leone, Benin, Cote D’Ivoire, Niger, Democratic Republic of Congo and Central Africa Republic covering over 22 countries.

What today becomes a leading media buying agency was established on March 1,1999 when the then multinational advertiser – British American Tobacco – decided to have an independent media agency to handle its media advertising.

The founding team was keen to change the advertising landscape in Nigeria by lifting the standard of media specialist services in the country, making it comparable to what obtains in Western Europe and North America.

To bring this dream of a truly professional and independent media specialist firm to fruition, mediaReach OMD opened shop with a clear mission to assemble a team of media specialists providing cutting edge solutions to advertisers, advertising agencies, and media owners in Nigeria and indeed, West and Central Africa.

From day one, its promoters didn’t hesitate to tell whoever cares to listen that their aspiration was to be number 1 in billings and reputation for integrity as evinced by their media planning dexterity, low cost buying, prompt payments and effective controls for accountability.

One wonders how the agency has been able to weather the storm during this recession but Ogunkoya was quick to add that mediaReach OMD is surmounting the challenges by focusing on the opportunities, fine-tuning their business strategy and advising their esteemed clients accordingly.

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Media Perspectives: Leading the Pack through Provision of Dynamic Media Solutions

If the yardstick for judgment is based on volume of business, billings and ability to rejuvenate brands, obviously, Media Perspectives is a market leader in the media planning and buying business. A member of the Troyka group, Media Perspectives started playing in the big league from day one in 2005 when it opened shop with the media buying and strategic planning businesses of Nigerian Breweries, Indomie and Zain, as Airtel was then known. By 2009, the agency witnessed a huge expansion with blue chip accounts like P&G, Nokia and Hennessy.

However, the agency’s biggest breakthrough in recent times was in 2012, when it won the MTN Account, which is unarguably the largest buyer of media space and airtime in West and Central Africa. Through referral, it added accounts from SMG: Coca-Cola and Samsung as well as winning local accounts like Jumia, E.J Gallo, Jovago and Kaymu between 2014 and 2015. Along the line, Media Perspectives sealed a global partnership with Starcom MediaVest Group, reputed to be the World’s No 1 media group and became its Nigerian Agency.

To achieve its targeted result, Media Perspectives is believed to always deploy insight – driven media strategy and planning by defining marketing problems, probing challenges among others.
Perhaps the secret of the agency’s success lies in the strength of its network and outstanding talents. As at today, its global partner –Starcom is in 78 markets, with 129 offices across the world. Africa has three regional hubs; Nigeria, Kenya and Senegal. According to a source close to the agency, it’s network currently manages $39.2b in media investments. For its laudable achievement in the industry and consistent effort to further extend the frontiers, one may find it difficult to dismiss the assertive statement often quieted by the promoters of Media Perspectives brand that they know Nigerian media users better than any of their competitors especially with the publication of Nigeria Media Advertising Guide (NMAG). The next edition will be released anytime soon.

Media Perspectives is an integrated media solutions partner primarily focused on the growth of its clients’ businesses. This is evidenced by many successful campaigns they have executed for clients. Few among them are the ‘Good Morning Nigeria Initiative’ for MTN, MTN Season of Surprises campaign, Coca-Cola ‘Share a Coke’ campaign, Jumia Launch campaign, Samsung 8 & 8+ Launch in Nigeria and many others.

They are arguably the most decorated media agency in Nigeria with the following industry awards Marketing World 2016 Media Agency of the Year, Marketing Edge 2015 Outstanding Media Buying Agency of the Decade, Marketing World 2014 Media Agency of the Year, Marketing Edge 2014 Media Agency of the Year and many more.

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Insight Publicis: Long History, Great Stride

Insight Communications mean many things to many people. To advertising students and budding brand builders, it is simply the University of Advertising but to top players and other stakeholders in marketing communication, Insight is simply the industry leader.

It is not however by accident that most Chief Executive Officers of various agencies in today’s market passed through Insight Publicis.

Today, Insight Publicis is not just Nigeria’s foremost agency but arguably West Africa’s largest marketing communications group.

After winning many local and international accounts, as well as building many brands, what appears to be the major aim of the agency today is to compete on the global stage. Few years ago, precisely in 2011, many stakeholders were shocked when Insight decided to look away from the annual Lagos Advertising and Ideas Festival. It was not until after the event had come and gone that the revelation came out that Insight didn’t participate because it was already looking beyond local awards.

Established in 1980, the creative powerhouse has redefined the marketing and business landscape not only in Nigeria but across Africa. With its recent affiliation in 2016 with the Publicis Groupe Global Network, the third largest marketing communications company in the world, Insight Publicis is taking African advertising global.

As an ambitious creative community of talents, Insight Publicis works have received global attention and accolades, notable amongst them are Bank PHB’s Cars run on water, the Adventurous Gulder Ultimate Search show and most recently Pepsi Longthroat campaign to mention a few.

The creative geniuses at Insight Publicis have one mandate, and that is to develop high octane creative solutions that solve their Clients’ business challenges and increasingly deliver value for their businesses.

The great team at Insight develops brand experiences by working with their clients in a collaborative way that yields experimentation and new ideas.

Their consistent great works are what has continually brought fame and fortune to them at Insight.

This strategic thrust has undoubtedly guaranteed Insight Communications dominance of the Lagos Advertising and Ideas Festival Awards (LAIF) awards in the last decade, several marketing awards, young lions and most recently Silver Award in the 2016 WARC (World Advertising Research Council) Awards for Social media effectiveness.

Truly, Insight Publicis has stayed true to her core belief of seeking and building differentiation on profound truths about all her Clients’ brands, no wonder they have remained an ambitious creative community in their quest to become an iconic global ideas brand creatively turning knowledge into value for businesses.

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X3MIdeas: The Creative Industry Game Changer

Though the Chief Executive Officer of X3M Ideas, a full service digital agency, Mr. Steve Babaeko had been around for years, only a few took him serious when he decided to open his own shop. The reason is simple; the top players in the industry who had been around for years appeared not ready to shift ground for new comers. But Babaeko and his team stuck to their gun, and thus birthed the new industry baby named X3M Ideas in the year 2012.

From day one, the new firm made it clear that it was obsessed with the vision to create a creative revolution in the Nigerian marketing communications landscape and beyond. Within few months of commencing business, the agency didn’t only achieve this but set the pace in the nation’s creative environment. Within a short period, it won many accounts and raked in many awards.

In line with the mission, the agency has demonstrated ample creativity in challenging the status-quo through its works.

The agency displays youthfulness and modernity in its mode of operation, flaunting cutting edge equipment and gadgets in a seamless office setting peopled by young but brilliant talents.

The marketing communications outfit, is one of the young and vibrant leading advertising agencies in Nigeria providing solutions to brand owners and functional coatings for consumers, craftsmen and industrial applications. The agency displays youthfulness and modernity in its mode of operation, flaunting cutting edge equipment and gadgets in a seamless office setting occupied by young but brilliant talents.

Having been dubbed by analysts as one of Nigeria’s fastest growing communication agency, X3M Ideas has a robust portfolio of clients and brands that cut across telecoms, satellite broadcasting, banking and FMCG, among others.

The agency offers a multitude of applications to satisfy the needs of different target groups: consumers, craftsmen and industrial businesses. No wonder the agency was called out to receive an award at the African Cristal Awards held in Marrakech Morocco recently. With agencies from Nigeria, it became a very humbling experience as they nudge Nigeria and Nigerian agencies forward on the African and global creative arena.

Speaking on how they felt after receiving the award, the CEO of X3MIdeas, Steve Babaeko said; “it is a very humbling experience. Like I always tell people, when we set up X3M Ideas, we didn’t setup to be second best to any other agency, we thought we could be the best and we have tenaciously work at this. Today, the fact that we win at that pan-African level underscores all the dreams, all the aspirations we had at the inception of X3M Ideas. We are glad we are leading the onslaught to break down barriers and destroy myths. We are indeed humbled.

Technology has always played an important role for the creative agency; they have a state-of-art digital recording studio for radio commercials. This has drastically cut down on the agency’s turn-around time for clients’ briefs in a bid to reflect its hunger and readiness to deliver as a nimble and dynamic team of young professionals.

Creating sustainable value is seemingly one of the purposes that unite the entire young professional at X3M. They always want to create value for their clients and, for their teams and their people, as well as for the larger society and communities in which they operate. This understanding must have influenced their decision to establish a tradition of commissioning a CSR project in commemoration of its anniversaries.

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Leo Burnett Lagos: Ad Agency with Unique Winning Edge

At a time stakeholders in the marketing communication industry thought the business environment was too tough for anybody to venture into, Leo Burnet Lagos was established with the promise to change the marketing communications landscape.

However, in just abouttwo years of operation in the highly competitive advertising business in the country, Leo Burnett Lagos has proven to become an iconic creative brand, with the array of local and international awards and accolades it has carted in the industry.

On the list of her landmarks in the industry is the 1st international award which Leo Burnett Lagos won at the just-concluded African Cristal awards in Morocco. Leo Burnett Lagos won 2 Awards in the Radio category.

Also at the 2016 LAIF awards, the Sam Osunsoko-led marketing communication agency was a glaring star of the night when it won three Gold, five Silver and five Bronze medals, hitting age old agencies in the competitive industry.

Beyond the conventional creativity, Leo Burnett Lagos is an agency that prides itself as a solution provider to brands challenges in the marketplace by looking into their business problems and strategic way of solving them.

Leo Burnett Lagos prides itself as an external student of Human Behaviour, which gives an unparalleled ability to better understand people and what drives them.

The 360 degree marketing communication agency has made huge and impactful contributions to brands such as Konga, Heritage Bank, Nestle, Crusader Sterling Pensions, Phizer and Philip Morris.

Considering the group of multi-disciplinary and multi-skilled talents that are available at Leo Burnett Lagos, the agency is poised to deliver excellent innovation in the industry in the year 2017 and ahead.

Leo Burnett Lagos, which is an affiliate of Leo Burnett Inc., is not resting on its oars and is poised to become a market leader a market leader in the business of advertising Africa.

In a recent interview with THISDAY, the Chief Executive Officer of the agency, Sam Osunsoko, described the two years operation of the agency as a watershed. He spoke about the factors that have helped the agency’s growth and how it clinched 13 medals at the 2016 edition of the Lagos Advertising & Ideas Festival (LAIF) held in Lagos.

“From inception, we’ve been very clear in our minds as to how we’d defy the odds of the industry – maintain an obsessive focus on our clients’ brands with a strong intent to growing them. It is for this reason that our objectives of business and creative leadership in this country seems to be taking shorter time for us to achieve than we initially projected. To give an example, the Heritage Bank’s Kings and Queens campaigns we developed was deeply insights-driven. It celebrates the enterprise spirit of Nigerians and Africans at large. This has further reinforced perception of Heritage Bank as one with a very strong SME focus. In terms of how almost every major campaign we developed has not only step-changed the brands we developed them for but has also won one creative award or the other, you could be forgiven if you likened Leo Burnett Lagos to the artiste that spoke about all his songs being hits back-to-back (…laughs). One reason why this is so is because of how we have created work environment that fosters creativity in all we do. The results are just now becoming apparent.”

He related the factors that shaped the agency’s growth to the parable of the gazelle and the lion. According to him, every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed.

‘’Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up, it knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t therefore matter whether you‘re the lion or the gazelle –when the sun comes up, you’d better be running. So, when we started operation in 2015, we knew we must not just have a challenger mentality but we must sustain it, otherwise we would find it tough achieving our long-term objectives in the market. Having done this fairly successfully, our focus is on the future. One brand at a time, how do we create a bandwagon of brands that have gone through the HumanKind thinking and have come out tops in their respective categories? How do we turn the brands we work for into Power-brands in the marketplace?

“A few set out goals made it possible for us to make some of the impacts that you’re seeing today. One; our creative philosophy – we believe that because creativity is the most potent force in life and therefore has the power to transform human behaviour, then we must the best at what we do to consistently be relevant to the brands we work for. Number two, which I think is perhaps the most important is our HumanKind approach to eliciting the deepest of human insights, which ensures more spot-on creative solutions. At Leo Burnett, we pride ourselves in being Eternal Students of Human Behavior. We seek to understand human beings – who you know as consumers, better than our peers.

‘In understanding people, we understand their fears and motivations, we understand what their wants are and because we understand them better, we are able to elicit deep rooted insights which helps us come up with competitively better creative solutions. We ask ourselves, what do people really want? What do consumers want? We then seek to match that with what the brand can competitively do and we develop our brand promise around that. By doing this, Leo Burnett Lagos has been consistently rewarded by the consumers, who buy the brands and we have also been rewarded by the industry that recognizes our work and the solutions we provide,” Osunsoko said.

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DKK: Taking Bold Steps Towards A Great Vision

Looking for “The Mistress”? Well, DKK proudly presents herself as Nigeria’s leading Marketing Communications agency that prides herself in the quality of service she offers. She is the Mistress for the mastery of her craft. Or you could see her as the other “Mistress” simply for being right on hand when your brand calls.

Industry experts in the country will disagree. To them, DKK’s trajectory resonates more with the story of the Phoenix; the famed Greek mythical bird.

According to Greek mythology, the Phoenix is a mystical bird that burns to death only to resurrect from the ashes. For the Greeks, the Phoenix symbolizes rebirth and regeneration – two qualities that best describe DKK’s evolution over the years.

Only five years ago, DKK Nigeria, which was established back in 1997, was on the brink of collapse and in dire need of a new lease of life. Enter Temitope Jemerigbe. Under her cerebral leadership, the company has bounced back into reckoning. Today, DKK has cemented her position as an integrated marketing company of note in Nigeria, winning the confidence of major brands like NLPCPFA, Mastercard, telecoms giant; MTN, Roche, Fortune Games, DKT,Visafone (before the buy-over by MTN), amongst others.

Following the company’s resurgence in Nigeria, DKK expanded the boundaries of its business beyond the shores of the country by going into a joint venture with GEPetrol, the National Oil Company of Equatorial Guinea. The joint venture allowed DKK to open shop in Equatorial Guinea and enjoy exclusive access to GEPetrol’s marketing business, alongside the accounts of its other joint venture partners.

This development is unique in many ways. For one, it’s not an affiliation or a buy-out, two phenomena prevalent in Nigeria. Rather, a wholly owned Nigerian advertising agency would be planting roots in a foreign land and becoming fully operationalabroad. While Temitope Jemerigbe now assumes the position of Group Chief Executive, overseeing DKK’s entire operations across Africa,the duo ofFolabomi Salami, theExecutive Director/Chief Operations Officer (who has beenwith the company since its rebirth) and Dave Chukwuji, Chief Creative Officer will now take charge of the Nigerian arm of the business.

According to Jemerigbe, DKK will leverage the company’s experience in Nigeria todeliver cutting-edge service to clients across the African region.

She said: “Since our rebirth,we have had aclear vision of where we wantedDKK to be in five years and a critical component of the vision was to establishourselves as a strong player in Nigeria’s IMC industry. We are pleased at the progress we have made in actualizing the vision. Now, we are taking the next big step which is expanding our unique offerings to other parts of the continent, starting with Equatorial Guinea, where we are kicking off with some choice accounts. We are excited because the establishment of our branch in Equatorial Guinea is taking off on a very strong footing with GEPetrol,following the joint venture agreement we have with them. So these are indeedvery interesting times for DKK.”

The birth of DKK Equatorial Guinea notwithstanding, Jemerigbe is confident that DKKwill continue to harness and consolidate her presence in Nigeria. Little wonder the agency recently clinched the 2017 NBA Conference business as well as the Infinix Mobility account.
“Even as we continue to expand our frontiers across Africa, sustaining the momentum in the Nigerian market remains a key focus for us. It’s a market that we will continue to treat with all the seriousness it deserves because we will remain rooted here. Our dynamic team would continue to steer the DKK ship in Nigeria to ensure that the agency maintains the same high standards of service delivery that has brought us this far.We are optimistic that the DKK brand will keep getting stronger as we build for the future”.

A member of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN) and the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), DKK operates a result driven business, ensuring that all results are measurable and transparent. In its tool-kit are: excellence, creativity, accountability, professionalism & integrity. With this, it has successfully proved its services to a wide array of clients in the area of advertising, media planning and buying, content and sponsorship, Public Relations, events and activation as well as digital marketing.
Depending on which angle of the prism you are looking from, you would see DKK either as a phoenix or the mistress of IMC. You would be right any ways. But be certain that great things lie ahead for the agency!